Whaling: Japan defies World Court, International Law, and U.N. Charter

Japan has decided to resume whaling in the Antarctic Ocean by the end of March after a hiatus since last year, a move likely to prompt international outrage.

The International Court of Justice ruled in March last year that Japan’s decades-old whale hunt in the Antarctic should stop, prompting Tokyo to cancel the bulk of its whaling for the 2014/2015 season.

The order from the United Nations court was binding and cannot be appealed.

–Reuters, “Japan to resume Antarctic whale hunt despite ICJ ruling; International Court of Justice ruled last year that Japanese whaling must stop, amid widespread outrage at the practice,” The Telegraph, November 28, 2015 (9:52AM GMT).

See also

Pdatrick Ramage, “Will Japan join the U.N. Security Council and defy the World Court on whaling?” IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), October 14, 2015

In defying the judgment of the International Court of Justice, Japan is giving strong impetus to a growing tendency of major nations to ignore fundamental norms of the United Nations Charter, which has constituted the basic framework for international peace and security since 1945.

If Vladimir Putin can invade the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine in flagrant violation of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2(4) of the Charter, and Japan or any other country can defy a judgment of the ICJ in flagrant violation of Article 94(1) of the Charter, and other nations acquiesce in these actions, what is left of the postwar legal order?

What legal argument can Japan use if China decides to seize islands in the East China Sea or the South China Sea in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter?  Can it argue that some binding articles (e.g., Article 2 paragraph 4) of the Charter are really binding, but others (e.g., Aericle 94 paragraph 1) are not?

The great tragedy here is that Japan, a real democracy, is standing on the side of Putin in tearing down the U.N. Charter.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.